Depending on how you say the term, it can either be an accolade or a grievous insult that could spur a man into throwing hands.
One thing that everybody can agree upon: nobody takes food culture more seriously than the good people of south Louisiana.
Once you learn at the knee of the rural country-folk of Acadiana you’ll see a measurable uptick in your ability to turn out food that makes your family slobber like a pack of hound dogs.
Even when I’m not cooking in the rural Louisiana fashion I still utilize techniques that I picked up in the swamps and on the prairies of southwest Louisiana.
For instance: nowadays when I smoke chicken on my antique Weber I always use a generous amount of countrified seasoning on whatever flesh I’m cooking with fire. And for that fire I always use cured Louisiana pecan wood. There are tens of millions of pecan trees across our state and every pitboss worth his salt has a big stack of pecan wood situated near his pit or smoker.
But use what you have available. When I lived in Kentucky I used Hickory; when I lived in Texas I used Oak. Pick a well-cured American hardwood for this endeavor.
I’ve collected Cajun cookbooks for decades, and have been lucky to spend plenty time in the kitchens of Cajun cooks from Grand Chenier to St John the Baptist Parish. Some were proud to also be called coonasses. Some were not. Before you go loosely flinging the term around you may want to check with the company you’re keeping to make sure it’s alright. It’d be a shame to end up getting fed to the gators cause you couldn’t keep your mouth shut.
A Recipe For Pecan Smoked Coonass Chicken Thighs
1 T. Paprika
1 T. Salt, Kosher
1 T. Black Pepper
1 T. White Pepper
1 T. Garlic Powder
1 T. Onion Powder
1 T. Cayenne
1 family pack bone-in chicken thighs
* Build fire in smoker (I use 18 charcoal briquettes and one large hunk of pecan wood)
* Combine spices and sprinkle thoroughly on chicken thighs
* Place chicken on opposite side of smoker from fire
* Open hatch over chicken
* Cook thoroughly
This fire will yield roughly three hours of heat and smoke which is ample for cooking bone-in chicken thighs. The key is getting the bone inside the flesh hot so it can radiate heat from the inside-out. Take a boning knife and pierce the plumpest thigh, if the juice is clear then the meat is thoroughly cooked. If your fire runs out prior to the chicken being cooked just transfer it to a 300 degree oven for 15-30 minutes.
These chicken thighs eat great hot off the smoker with a side vegetable like fried cabbage or green beans. You may also strip the meat off the bones and make tacos, barbecue sandwiches or quesadillas. Smoky chicken is a crucial ingredient in our fideo, posole and/or white chili.
Be sure and save the bones to make a rich chicken stock. Sometimes we remove all the chicken skin and fry it in bacon fat then use it as a po boy filling par excellence.
A gallon ziploc bag filled with pecan smoked chicken is a godsend when you’re hungry and have precious little time to cook.
This is recipe no. 228 on this site. Compiled into a handsome volume they would make a fine cookbook.
Read more about coonasses here.